'There Will Be Consequences': Debbie Wasserman Schultz Threatens Capitol Police Chief
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently used her position as a member of the House subcommittee that sets the U.S. Capitol Police budget to threaten the police chief regarding an investigation into her own staff.
During the May 18 House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing, a visibly annoyed Wasserman Schultz said "there will be consequences" when Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa said he could not return her laptop that had been used by a Pakistani staffer currently under criminal investigation.
“My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee.
“We can’t return the equipment,” Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa told the Florida Democrat.
“I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Her employee Imran Awan and three of his relatives were relieved of their duties and banned from computer networks at the House of Representatives in February on suspicion that they had accessed congressional computers without permission. Politico reported in March:
[They are] accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.
The Capitol Police and outside agencies have been investigating the case for months and there have been no arrests. One of the suspects, Imran Awan's wife Hina Alvi, recently fled the country to Pakistan, "where her family has significant assets and VIP-level protection," according to the Daily Caller.
Imran Awan, the apparent ringleader of the group, has run technology for Wasserman Schultz since 2005. Rather than distancing herself from him, Wasserman Schultz seems to have helped Awan circumvent the network ban. She retitled him as an “adviser” rather than technology administrator.
In a plot twist straight from Hollywood, the Daily Caller further reports that, according to a federal employee with knowledge of the situation, "a laptop used by Imran was hidden in an unused crevice of the Rayburn House Office Building" as House authorities were closing in on the clan's activities:
Wasserman Schultz’s office is in Longworth House Office Building, a separate structure.
The laptop was later found by Capitol Police and seized because it was relevant to the criminal investigation, the source said.
The investigation is examining members’ data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get Members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls, billing $4 million since 2010.
During the last few minutes of the hearing, the Florida lawmaker repeatedly tried to pressure Verderosa into agreeing to return the piece of equipment that is currently in police hands: